It’s Not A Game: The NBA Pulls Its All-Star Festivities From North Carolina
In one of the most high profile and strongest stands yet against North Carolina’s recent elimination of anti-discrimination protections against gays, lesbians and bisexuals, the National Basketball Association has announced it is pulling its 2017 All-Star festivities from the state. The game was to be held in Charlotte, and its new host city has yet to be announced.
In March of 2016, North Carolina passed House Bill 2, or HB2, which mandated that transgendered males and females use the public restrooms which matched their anatomical parts at birth. The law also took away the legal protections of LGBTQ people against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Since North Carolina governor Pat McCrory signed the bill into law, there have been a number of acts of protest against the state, ranging from artists cancelling concert dates to adult websites blocking access to their services. The federal government threatened to withhold funding to the state, asserting that the law is a civil rights violation. North Carolina sued the U.S. government, in response, and the U.S. has counter-sued.
Even in the midst of federal lawsuits and artist protests, the N.B.A.’s current stance raises awareness to a different level. Popularity of the league is at or near an all-time high with superstar players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry as some of its key ambassadors. NBA All-Star Weekend is arguably the biggest all-star event of all the major professional sports leagues, and it brings a massive influx of cash to its host city, with the 2015 festivities reportedly generating $195 million in economic activity for New York City. And, while the choices of artists can be dismissed as individual preference, the N.B.A. is an institution.
With its announcement about withdrawing the game from Charlotte, the N.B.A. released the following statement: “Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community—current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans. While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
With the recent commentary from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony regarding the slayings of Black citizens by police officers, and the killing of officers in Dallas, this marks the second time in a week that the league and/or its players have used their platform to take a stand on social issues that are dominating discourse in our country.